My Interdependence Day
Madhu MenonAugust 16, 2015
“maine yehapar aaj tiranga leharaya, kyo ki sab ko pata chale, hum bhi Hindustani hey” (I hoisted the tricolour here today, so that people realize that we are also Indians)
Could you read something in between the lines? This was a statement, answer I heard from Mehmooda, a lady at Chandola Talav, one of the large slums in Ahmedabad, predominantly occupied by poor Muslims and Dalits. And this lady who made this statement was a Muslim.
The counter question from Avani Shethi, a well known Kathak dancer and humanist, was “why did you insist on hum bhi, was not Hum Hindustani enough?
“No, sister, we have to reinforce, we have to walk the extra mile to prove that we are also Indians, whether you like it or not, this is the scenario even after 69 years of independence”. She replied.
Yesterday, I got up with a lot of feelings, I do get up every day with feelings, feelings for the day, and yesterday it was India’s 69th Independence Day, so my feelings had all the colours, much more than our tri-colour represents. As an individual who always believed in the inter dependence and diversity – for a naturalist, that’s the best way to understand the world – my thoughts were connected to the day’s importance. Celebrating the differences, the diversity and accepting the similarity that we all are Indians. But, is it necessary that I should be identified as anti Pakistan when I scream Jai Hind? Is it necessary that I should be identified as a true Hindu, when I shout Jai Hind? Is it really necessary to hate one or few countries when I proudly say “I love my country”?
My skeptic friends say our sole contribution to the world is zero, but I don’t agree with them. What about the concept of “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu” (may all being everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all) and “vasudaiva kutmbakam” (the whole world is one family, the whole of humanity is made of one life energy etc…)? These learnings give me a lot of confidence to say “jai Hind” without an iota of doubt that I did not mean any harm either to another country or to people of a different faith.
So, my doubt, my annoyance, my apprehension is that why can’t we promote these wonderful thoughts and create an atmosphere of harmony and peace instead of insisting that one should proclaim either you are a patriotic Indian or you are an anti national. Is it necessary that the Mehmooda of Chandola slum has to reiterate her affiliation to the patriotic symbols like the tricolor every time there is a national celebration? Are we not mature enough to help her avoid the usage of “ hum bhi Hindustani” term?
All said and done, it was a day well spent for me. I was with the wonderful people of Ashoknagar Society from 8.45 to 9.30 in the morning, where I have been living since last 25 years, one of the rarest housing societies in Ahmedabad that celebrates all national days with vigor and enthusiasm. I spent another few hours with students of Calorx Teachers’ University and Times Business School that helped me realise the power of youngsters, their commitment to a better tomorrow and got inspired by the short but sweet motivational address of the Vice Chancellor Dr Shailednra Gupta.
From the Calorx Teachers’ University someone close to me hijacked me to another University, the Chandola Lake slums to celebrate the Independence Day with the inhabitants who still try to understand the real meaning of development. Though I used the word “hijacked”, it was with a lot of pride and enthusiasm I allowed Keshav Chatterjee, a wonderful human being who has dedicated his life to the children with different abilities to take me to Chandola, which I consider as one of the best universities in Ahmedabad if you are inclined to understand Humanities, Human Rights, Development, Inclusiveness and Poverty. His organisation, Prabhat Education Foundation has already brought a smile on the faces of hundreds of parents and children from the lesser privileged population of the great country that is India.
And during the celebration of our 69th Independence Day at Chandola Lake, Mehmooda said “maine yehapar aaj tiranga leharaya, kyo ki sab ko pata chale, hum bhi Hindustani hey” (I hoisted the tricolour here today, so that people around realizes that we are also Indians).